George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Elisha Bennett, 3 March 1795

From Elisha Bennett

Kinderhook Landg State of New York March 3 1795


I am Under the Necessity of presenting these few lines to his Excellency Setting forth my greivences, I served on Board of the Continental Frigate, Called the Trumbel Dudley Saltin-stall Commander, Thirteen Months & 6 days as second mate at 15 Dollrs per month and never received but Seventy Two Dollars of my wages I have repeatedly applyed to that honorable body the Continental Congress for redress but Cannot Obtain any, for what reasons I Cannot Tell, as my name is On the ships books at Philedelpha.1

I now appeal to his Excellency as the last recorse I have to recover my Just & lawfull demands, and through which Medium I hope to obtain some Satisfaction, for my past services in favour of the Country—which I was faithful in Executing the Commands Laid upon me, I now feel the want of my labour, being Old myself and having a Large family of Children to maintain and nothing to do it with but my naked hands, which if my Country would pay me what I have Faithfully earned, would afford me a Comfortab[l]e Subsistance now in my Old Age, those greivances here Stated are real facts, which I hope his Excellency will so far take notice of, as to put me in some way to Come at my Just due2 And as in Duty bound your petitioner will ever pray.

Elisha Bennett

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1No petition from Elisha Bennett (c.1732–1821) to the Continental Congress has been identified. He did, however, petition the U.S. Congress on 19 Nov. 1792 (DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793–95, SEN 3A-F2, Reports from the Secretary of the Treasury). On 20 Nov. 1792 Congress referred Bennett’s petition to Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, whose report of 27 Feb. 1794 against Bennett’s claim was communicated to the Senate on 3 March 1794 (Journal of the Senate description begins The Journal of the Senate including The Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends , 5:16, 6:68; Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 16:60–62). Subsequent petitions to Congress by Bennett in December 1795 and January 1802 were also denied, but under the pension law of 1818, he was granted a pension for his naval service (Journal of the House description begins The Journal of the House of Representatives: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends , 8:56, 135; U.S. House Journal description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States . . .. various places, 1789—. description ends , 7 Cong., 1st sess., 63, 157; White, Genealogical Abstracts description begins Virgil D. White. Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files. 4 vols. Waynesboro, Tenn., 1990–92. description ends , 1:237; Letter from the Secretary of War, Transmitting a Report of the Names, Rank, and Line of Every Person Placed on the Pension List, in Pursuance of the Act of the 18th March, 1818, &c., House Document 55, 16 Cong. 1 sess., p. 351).

Dudley Saltonstall (1738–1796) was commissioned a captain in the Continental navy on 22 Dec. 1775, commanding in turn the frigates Alfred, Trumbull, and Warren. As the senior naval commander on the Penobscot Expedition in 1779, he took much of the blame for the expedition’s failure and was dismissed from the service.

2GW’s secretary Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., replied to Bennett on 18 March “that the mode by which you ⟨must obtain⟩ your pay, if due, is to make a ⟨statement⟩ of your claim attended by proper ⟨vouchers⟩ to The Secretary of War, who is the Officer appointed by law to settle claims of this ⟨nature⟩” (ALS [letterpress copy], DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; bracketed text from LB, DLC:GW).

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